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The Esports Capital of the World: Tyler Tsunezumi

The team captain for 8-bit Esports club on choosing UNLV and his plans to parlay his pastime into a career.

People  |  Mar 6, 2018  |  By Nicole Schultz
Portrait of Tyler Tsunezumi


Tyler "Iwasawa" Tsunezumi (Josh Hawkins/UNLV Creative Services) 


Editor's Note: 

UNLV's 8-bit Esports club team will take on Boise State in the first-ever Mountain West Esports Showdown on March 10.

Tyler Tsunezumi began his esports journey as a teenager in his home state of Hawaii. His passion for playing led him to UNLV, where he could become a member of the university’s 8-bit Esports club and a Rebel.

Since moving from the Big Island three short years ago, Tsunezumi’s competitive spirit and desire to win has led him to become a high-ranking League of Legends player and captain of UNLV’s League of Legends team at the Mountain West Conference’s first-ever Esports Showdown.

Here are his thoughts on pursuing his passion, leading a team, and contributing to Vegas’ esports community after graduation.

I always knew I wanted to go to college, but I never knew exactly where. During my high school years, I met my closest friends through playing video games. I wondered, "Was it possible that my college experience could be the same?"

I began researching schools across the country, specifically looking for colleges with esports clubs. That’s when I found the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and the 8-bit Esports club—one of the first collegiate esports clubs.

8-bit was the main reason I came to UNLV.

My experience in the club has positively impacted my college experience as a whole. I’ve built a network of supportive, like-minded individuals and grown tremendously as a player and a person in the process.

Participating in the Esports Showdown will be the first major tournament of my career, but I am confident in my team’s abilities to beat Boise State.

As team captain, I’ve increased the number of hours that my team practices to 12 hours per week—three hours every Monday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. As an added bonus, we’ll be practicing side-by-side on the same gaming computers that will be used at the Showdown.

Recognition in the esports community goes a long way.

Just as is the case with any other sport, I act as a coach and a guide for players during our practice sessions. I tell them what they’re doing well and provide constructive criticism on what could be improved. My job is to encourage and inspire. My drive and passion for esports fuels my desire to succeed at this.

I mean, who doesn’t like winning, right?

When I graduate, my goal is to combine my degree in hospitality management and my love of esports by working in a casino on the Strip. In the future, I envision a new standard for the integrated resort: a sportsbook where esports are broadcasted on all of the TVs and gaming machines allow players to bet on esports matches. Taking a lesson from UNLV’s Esports Lab, it’s safe to say that esports and gambling go hand in hand.

Ultimately, I want to help make Las Vegas the esports capital of the U.S. I truly believe there is great potential to do just that.